Rule 634. Number of Peremptory Challenges.
(A) Trials Involving Only One Defendant:
(1) In trials involving misdemeanors only and when there is only one defendant, the Commonwealth and the defendant shall each be entitled to 5 peremptory challenges.
(2) In trials involving a non-capital felony and when there is only one defendant, the Commonwealth and the defendant shall each be entitled to 7 peremptory challenges.
(3) In trials involving a capital felony and when there is only one defendant, the Commonwealth and the defendant shall each be entitled to 20 peremptory challenges.
(B) Trials Involving Joint Defendants:
(1) In trials involving joint defendants, the defendants shall divide equally among them that number of peremptory challenges that the defendant charged with the highest grade of offense would have received if tried separately; provided, however, that each defendant shall be entitled to at least 2 peremptory challenges. When such division of peremptory challenges among joint defendants results in a fraction of a peremptory challenge, each defendant shall be entitled to the next highest number of such challenges.
(2) In trials involving joint defendants, it shall be within the discretion of the trial judge to increase the number of peremptory challenges to which each defendant is entitled up to the number of peremptory challenges that each defendant would have received if tried alone.
(3) In trials involving joint defendants, the Commonwealth shall be entitled to peremptory challenges equal in number to the total number of peremptory challenges given to all of the defendants.
This rule governs the number of peremptory challenges for the selection of principal trial jurors. The number of peremptory challenges for the selection of alternate trial jurors is set forth in Rule 633.
Previous Rule 1126 was adopted after the abolition of the Courts of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery, and served to preserve the number of peremptory challenges established with reference to such courts by the Act of March 6, 1901, P. L. 16, § 1, as amended by Act of July 9, 1901, P. L. 629, § 1. That rule was rescinded in 1977 in view of the Act of October 7, 1976, P. L. 1089, No. 217, § § 12, which repealed the 1901 peremptory challenge statute and established the number of peremptory challenges without reference to the abolished courts.
Present Rule 634 (then-Rule 1126) was adopted in 1980 after the Act of October 7, 1976, P. L. 1089, No. 217, § 1, and other statutory provisions relating to peremptory challenges (see Act of March 31, 1860, P. L. 427, § 40, as amended by Act of October 7, 1976, P. L. 1055, No. 213, § 1) were repealed by the Judiciary Act Repealer Act, 42 P. S. § 20002(a) ,  (1979). Although this rule is intended to replace the repealed statutes as to peremptory challenges, the rule retains the number of peremptories that was established by such statutes.
When offenses of different grades are charged in a case, the number of peremptory challenges is intended to be determined by the highest grade of offense charged; cumulation is not intended.
Previous Rule 1126 adopted December 24, 1968, effective January 1, 1969; rescinded May 26, 1977, effective July 1, 1977; present Rule 1126 adopted July 1, 1980, effective August 1, 1980; renumbered Rule 634 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; Comment revised September 21, 2012, effective November 1, 2012.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Final Report explaining the March 1, 2000 reorganization and renumbering of the rules published with the Courts Order at 30 Pa.B. 1478 (March 18, 2000).
Final Report explaining the September 21, 2012 revision to the first and third paragraphs of the Comment correcting typographical errors published with the Courts Order at 42 Pa.B. 6251 (October 6, 2012).
The provisions of this Rule 634 amended September 21, 2012, effective November 21, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 6247. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (311410) and (264325) to (264326).
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